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  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    November 15, 2012
    9:00 - 12:00pm EST  

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called the sportsman bill. expands hunting and fishing on federal land and eases regulation. senators will vote at 9:15 a.m. eastern on limiting debate on amendments to the. standing by after the sportsman bill is a bill setting defense department programs in policy for the next year. the house will work today on a measure to normalize u.s. trade relations with russia. you can see that debate starting at noon eastern over on c-span. now live to the senate floor here on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. eternal lord god, today let your favor rest upon the members of our government's legislative branch.
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establish the works of their hands and strengthen them to honor you by serving others. let your life-giving spirit move them to feel greater compassion for those in need. use them to remove barriers that divide us, may they strive to be agents of healing and hope, as they help us all live in greater justice and peace. we pray in your holy name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag.
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i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c., november 15, 2012. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable richard blumenthal, a senator from the state of connecticut, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: daniel k. inouye, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i now move to proceed to calendar number 419. the clerk: motion to proceed to calendar number 419, to authorize appropriations for
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2013 military activities. mr. reid: the filing deadline to s. 3525, the sportsmen's act is at 9:10 today. at 9:15 there will be a cloture vote on s. 3525. i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are. mr. mcconnell: i ask the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: with the new year fast approaching, all eyes are on washington and whether the two parties can come together and agree on a plan to avoid a massive year-end tax hike. i truly believe we can.
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i believe the two parties can avoid the so-called fiscal cliff and in the process i even believe we can agree on a framework for a bipartisan plan to address the even bigger problem of our nation's fiscal solvency. but there are clear obstacles to success. and if we're going to succeed, we want to avoid a job-killing tax hike and put the country on a path to solvency, we need to be clear about what the obstacles are. the first obstacle is a very vocal and very determined group of extremists on the left who are rooting for us to go off the fiscal cliff. they want this to happen. these are the folks the president invited to the white house earlier this week and who seem to have gotten a number of democrats in the senate to embrace this reckless idea themselves. now, make no mistake, the goal of these folks isn't to do what's best for the middle class, it isn't to create
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jobs, it isn't even to balance the books since the taxes they'd hike wouldn't even come close to covering current spending. what they want is to sock it to those who they define as rich. regardless of the impact on jobs or the broader economy. that's what motivates this crowd. they're not serious about tackling the nation's fiscal problems, and if we're serious about helping middle-class americans and helping this economy grow, their radical approach frankly should just be ignored. the other obstacle to success is a mindset that says the president of the united states is somehow a bit player in this whole thing, that he's just a bystander sitting around waiting on other people to act. this is the mind seth that thinks leadership consists in telling other people to -- quote -- "work it out" -- end quote while you continue to run a campaign to make sure they can't.
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this is really ludicrous. the only way -- i repeat, the only way -- we're going to solve this present crisis and get past the political stalemate is for the president himself to lead. just to illustrate the point, let me remind everyone of something that happened two years ago next month. just two years ago next month. because it says a lot about the power of presidential leadership in critical moments like this. less than two years ago the president said he wasn't going to allow tax rates to go up on anyone because, as he put it, "you don't raise taxes in the middle of a recession." so let's leave aside for a second that if it was a good idea then, it's an even better idea now since the economy is growing even more slowly now than it was in late 2010. let's just leave that aside. the point here is that the moment the president of the united states said those words, the moment he signaled that he
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was okay to keep rates where they were, 40 democrats, including many who had spent the previous decade campaigning against them, got in line and followed his lead. that's an example of presidential leadership. and that's just what's needed now. the president is the only person in america, the only one out of 315 million who can sign a bill into law. he's the only one who can lead the members of his own party to do something they wouldn't ordinarily do. but first he needs to decide it's time to put away the talking points and do something good, something really good for the country. ronald reagan understood this. bill clinton understood this. and president obama seemed to understand it too in december of 2010. so i'll say it again. the only way we succeed is if the president steps up and leaders. it starts by showing that he's serious about success. and let's be clear, an opening bid of $1.6 trillion in new
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taxes just isn't serious. it's more than simpson-bowles or any other bipartisan commission has called for. it's been unanimously rejected in the house and senate. it's twice as much as the white house seemed ready to agree to during last summer's debt ceiling talks. and looked at in the context of the spending cuts yet to be enacted from the president's other proposals, it amounts to about 20 cents in cuts for every new dollar in tax hikes. in other words, no cuts at all. it's a joke. a joke. look, people i talk to across kentucky, they don't want any more political fights. th*e'd like to -- they'd like to see us get somewhere. they want the two parties to work together to find a solution to our fiscal problems. and that's just what we're proposing. yesterday the president said he had an open mind when it came to finding a solution to these things. he said he's happy to listen to
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other people's ideas. i take that as a good sign. if the president's got an open mind, maybe he'll see that republicans are the ones who have expressed a willingness to step out of our comfort zone if it actually leads to a solution. we don't happen to think the government needs more revenue. the government spends too much as it is. but if democrats are willing to reduce spending and strengthen entitlement programs, which we all know are on an unsustainable path that threat -pbgs our -- threatens our viability, then we'll be there. what we won't do is raise tax rates and kiss goodbye more than 700,000 good jobs in the process. what we won't do is embrace a tax policy that disincentivizes savings and work. what we won't do is agree to revenue in exchange for reforms we know won't happen.
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that isn't good for anybody. the president wants to help the middle class, he'll accept the basic outline speaker boehner proposed last week, convince his fellow democrats to do the same, ignore the reckless voices of those on the far left who are calling for a fiscal calamity, ignore the extremists who want to cover their eyes and do absolutely nothing to protect and strengthen entitlement programs for the future, and propose a plan that both sides can actually accept. that's how we get out of this. that's how we succeed. the scope of this challenge calls for presidential leadership. that's what the american people should be able to expect, and that's all republicans are calling for. it's the president's turn to propose a specific plan that brings both parties together. that's what presidents are elected to do. that's what he pledged to do, and it's precisely the sort of leadership we need. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the leadership time is reserved. the clerk will report the pending business. the clerk: calendar number 504, s. 3525, a bill to protect
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and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing and shooting, and for other purposes. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion. we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close debate on s. 3525, a bill to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing and shooting, and for other purposes, signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: by unanimous consent, the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is: is it the sense of the senate that debate on s. 3525, a bill to protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing and shooting, and for other purposes, shall be brought to a close. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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vote: vote:
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the presiding officer: on this vote the yeas are 84. the nays are 12. three-fifths of the senators duly chosen and sworn having voted in the affirmative, the motion is agreed to. cloture having been invoked, the motion to commit falls.
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the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama is recognized.
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mr. sessions: i would ask the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sessions: the reid substitute, s. 2535, the sportsmen's act of 2012 is legislation that has a lot of very good things in it, and senator reid attempted, although outside the normal committee process, to put together a package of bills that could do some good things, and i generally i am supportive of the package. i think it has some very good qualities to it. in fact, i very much want to support it. but there's a problem with it. it's a small problem but an important problem, and it needs to be fixed. and that is that once again, after the budget control act agreement that we reached august a year ago, 15 months ago, the majority has brought forth a
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bill that violates the budget act. the budget control act really in which the deemed numbers for the budget were part of that process , and we spend more than we agreed to spend just 15 months ago. in 15 -- 15 noose moss ago we agreed to limit spending each year for the next ten years and to stay within a limited amount of spending. because we're borrowing virtually 40% of every dollar we spend. this country has a debt crisis staring us in the eye without any doubt the most obvious threat to america's future is the surging debt. $4 trillion plus increased debt in just four years and the end is not in sight. so we agreed as raising the debt
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ceiling to limit spending and this bill violates that. and we need not to do that. it's not the first one. it's about the fourth one. and that irresponsibility is one of the things that placed us into this fix. we looked the american people in the eye 15 months ago and said okay, we'll raise the debt ceiling $2.1 trillion because the administration had reached the limit of borrow 0ing the united states can incur, but we said we would cut over ten years, we would reduce our projected spending increases over ten years by $2.1 trillion. and part of the act was the budget control act that limited spending in various accounts and this one violates it. you say, well, jeff, that's your opinion. no, it's not my opinion. i raised this with chairman
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conrad, our chairman of the budget committee on which i'm ranking member, and he and his staff have looked at it and they've certified that this budget violation actually occurs. therefore, the legislation is subject to a budget point of order. it cannot go forward because it violates the budget. now, if that's raised and at some point i guess i would expect to do that, if we raise this budget point of order which will be -- will happen, then my colleagues will have a choice. they can either fix the difficulty with the budget and place the bill on a sound financial path, or they can say, well, we don't pay any attention to that objection, we'll waive the budget and just spend more than the budget allowed because this is really important. it's really important in effect
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that we raise revenue and spend more on the duck program. which i've been supportive of, and the duck stamps fund and that kind of thing. so -- but it's not the right way to do this. and if you're going to spend more money, you need to reduce the spending somewhere else and your net line should be there. also i'll point out that the legislation was changed from the time it came out of committee. part of the legislation at least came out of the committee of which i'm a member, environment and public works, and we observed that the proposal was to give bureaucrats, government officials, unelected, the power to meet with special interests or whoever they chose to meet with or not meet with and set the amount of fees,
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taxes perhaps you might call it, that would be required of americans before they could hunt ducks. that's never been so. previously the congress set how much you could charge for a duck stamp. and so this was raised in committee and our able chairman, chairwoman, senator barbara boxer, agreed and i guess by a voice vote it was accepted that there will be a limit on how much -- that the congress would set the limit on how much you could raise a duck stamp. and burden duck hunters with. and that's an important principle, in my opinion. that's violated by the bill that was brought up. not the one that passed committee, but the one brought up by the leader.
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so i have got to say, you know, i grew up in the country. i hunted. i don't hunt anymore. i go back home and love to be in the woods, but i just don't hunt anymore. but i've been a big supporter. and so many of my friends are hunters and fishermen and conservationists. i really enjoy working with that, so it's sad we're having a dispute over this legislation, because we're so close to being able to work out the problems. and my request would be to senator reid and to colleagues, is let's fix this. now it looks like the bill won't be brought up until monday when we come back, and there will be ample opportunity for us to fix this problem. so we're not passing a bill that violates the budget. under the bill, it would authorize and direct $140 million in new spending over the next ten years.
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$140 million. some may say that's not a lot. but if that's so, they have been in washington too long. $140 million is a lot of money, and it's a very important principle, because this isn't the first time we violated the budget act either. if we will stay with our agreement that we made with each other, that we made with the american people august a year ago when the budget control act was agreed to, we will have at least saved $2.1 trillion over ten years. but if we keep nibbling away at it and eroding just what we agreed to, we not only undermine our own credibility, but we weaken our ability to balance the budget. and if we reach a new agreement, which we need to as we deal with the fiscal cliff, don't the american people need to know that we will stand by the agreement that we make?
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don't they need to know that an agreement is something more than momentary event to get past a crisis and that surely next year we can just ignore it? and the next year we'll never stick to this? that is too much of that attitude in this congress, one reason this country is in such deep financial condition. so the reid amendment would violate those spending allocations and will do it not only next year, but every year over the next ten years. and it does not need to happen. so you say well this is technical. it's technical because it's paid for. well, we raise the revenue and we spend the revenue, but the new spending is paid for by
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revenue tax increase on the duck stamp. and, therefore, what are you worried about, sessions? well, what are we worried about? the agreement was this whole area of spending would be capped at a certain level, and the way to do this thing if you're going to spend more on the duck program, then reductions ought to be made somewhere else in this vast spending program, else you've taxed and spend. that's what we're doing. it's just a tax and spend. they say we can't cut anything else in the budget in dealing with interior, environment and those issues. there's no way we can save another dime. we can't save $14 million a year anywhere. of course we can. there's plenty of places to save it there, and in any other one of the items that are out here
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in this government that wastes money. what are they really saying? what they're saying is that of all the money we're currently spending, none -- all of that is more important than finding $14 million to spend on more duck reserves and programs. i'm not sure that's correct. i'm pretty much of a believer in a duck program, and i would like to see if we can't figure out a way to do more to make sure that we preserve those flyways and the duck population in america. and i'm prepared to be pretty aggressive as a member of the senate in developing policies that do that. but you don't have to tax and spend more. that's the point. so if you look at -- they say we can't cut any other spending in
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the entire federal government to find $14 million for the duck program. i would just say to my colleagues that's what we are paid to do. we are paid to make those tough choices. i don't like to sometimes, but it really shouldn't be very hard in this instance to find this kind of payment. and the idea that we can just up a fee and spend more money and violate the budget and nothing's going to happen and we're going to just go along and do that without objection is over, because we're in a debt crisis. we've run up trillion-plus deficits for the last four years. president bush's last deficit was huge. it was one of the largest we've had in maybe ever, $470 billion. we've averaged about one
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thousand one hundred billion dollars the last four years. the year before he left office it was a $160 billion deficit. we've got 160, 470, a trillion-plus four consecutive years. we will in a few years double the debt of the united states again. this cannot be sustained. that's all i'm saying. we've violated. we've had similar problems on the postal reform bill, the highway bill and veterans jobs bill. i really hope we'll use this period of time in which we can work out some language to fix this problem. my budget staff can provide a long list of things that could be -- that would save this much money and have no real impact on
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the productivity of our government. the migratory bird hahn by at that time investment and enhasment -- enhancement act would give the interior department a blank check to increase the price of the duck stamp. gives the interior department unelected bureaucrats, the power to set how much we pay. currently it's $15. they can do it to whatever figure the secretary would decide it should be without any limit whatsoever. and we discussed this in committee, and the committee said no this is not the way we want to go. we didn't do this before. we've not done this before. congress has stepped up to the plate and been responsible and decided how much we're going to extract from the american people before we allow them to go duck
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hunting. it's a significant change from what the committee voted on. the duck stamp is purchased by all duck hunters in the united states. it was established in 1934. and since its beginning, it's always been set by congress, not somebody in the bureaucracy. so i think this is an unchecked power. i think it's a delegation of power to a person not accountable to the people. and it might violate the constitution because only congress can appropriate money and raise taxes. if it doesn't violate the constitution explicitly, it violates the spirit of the constitution. and moreover, by increasing the price of duck stamps, if you think about it, in this
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amendment, it's an amendment, a revenue-raising amendment to an s-numbered bill. senator reid, therefore, by doing that, put a revenue enhancement bill originating in the senate, the constitution says revenue bills have to be originated in the house. so that's an important thing that really places the bill in jeopardy, because the house is very jealous, rightly so, of their constitutional prerogative of commencing all tax revenue bills in the house. the congressional budget office, our objective analysis team, scores the duck stamp provision as an increase in revenue if the house exerted its privilege under the constitution, it would be subject to a blue slip, a rejection based on the revenue
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clause. so i think the -- also amazingly we have about 19 bills and we don't have amendments, no amendment process to bring up amendments to vote. so we're stuck with the position of either supporting the bill as is and all its complexities. if we fix this matter, i'd be supportive of the bill. we've tried to study it. i think it's okay and pretty good actually. it's a positive step in the right direction if we simply fix this. the proper recommend for this situation is to allow amendments or send the bill back to committee and figure out how to pass legislation that's within the budget limit.
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mr. chairman -- president, i won't mention the, all the good things about this bill. there's a lot of them. the national fish and wildlife foundation act, the north american wetlands conservation has some good provisions in it. a a number of of the other pieces of legislation are excellent. that, i don't think is in dispute. supported by a lot of great wildlife organizations. and so i would support that. on september 22, the senate voted 84-7 to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed with the full expectation when the senate returned this month that an opportunity would be provided to address the budget concerns and
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to improve the bill. but now we see that our -- our friend, the majority leader, has decided to move forward without confronting these issues or doing it. so, mr. president, i just hope we can figure out a way to avoid the situation. maybe people didn't think about it clearly. maybe they just thought, well, it's paid for. therefore, it can't be a problem with the budget. but even though it's paid for, it really is a problem with the budget. and we don't need to delegate to some unelected official, even if it is constitutional, which i have doubts, the ability without limit to raise fees for a normal historical right of americans to go hunting ducks. so i just think that's god to be fixed to, and we should do that. and finally, i understand now
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about the recess for the day, all next week. in armed services committee yesterday, we were told, well, we can get the armed services authorization bill, the defense authorization bill up for a vote. we can actually bring it up, and we can have a vote. and this is great news. and we have to do it in three days, and very limited amendments. if you republicans will agree to that, we can get the bill up. well, this is the first time in 50 years we've not passed a defense bill prior to the october -- september fiscal year end. we're already into the fiscal year; it should have been passed long ago. more than that, we could have spent three weeks on the defense bill. we did nothing in september. we're doing nothing next week. what is this about?
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it's about management of the senate, defeating the historic ability of members of the senate to actually participate in the great issues of our time. one of them is the defense department budget. and policy. sets defense policy. it came out of the armed services committee unanimously. but several in of us in committee said we have amendments we want to bring up on the floor. other members not on the armed services committee have a right to talk about this $540 billion-some expenditure, the largest single expenditure outside of social security and medicare in the entire budget. so we're supposed to be thankful that we did nothing in september, going to do nothing next week, but you only now have three days and just a very few amendments which senator reid will pick and choose which ones you republicans get to
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offer. and that's why we're having problems here. senator reid continues to assert that republicans are filibustering. what republicans are saying is we're prepared to move to these bills but we'd like you, leader, to tell us how many amendments we can get. he's figured out a way to fill the tree. what we call the amendment tree, to a degree that's never been done before. and that allows him to pass legislation without any amendments. and so we say we'd like to have amendments, mr. leader, this is the united states senate. okay, sit smith me a list of them, you can have two and you can't be this amendment and can't be this amendment and can't be this amendment. it can only be these kind of amendments. we'll be nice to you.
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maybe three. okay, you get three. on a $500 billion defense bill that sets a policy for our military, that decides on what weapons system we're going to invest in, at billions of dollars? and some people in this senate have pns about it -- opinions about it. they want to come down to the floor. maybe they campaigned and said i'm against such and such in a defense bill and they want come here and they want to offer an amendment and explain why it shouldn't be in the bill, offer an amendment to take it out. sorry, we don't have time. mr. president, i think this is a dangerous trend. i believe we shouldn't be recessing today. i believe we should be working. we've got the fiscal cliff, we've got the defense sequester. we've got tax increases monumentally about to occur. we've got the death tax going to 55% of virtual anything somebody
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has. all going to happen if we don't take some action and all those people talking about, secretly they're planning and talking and working and so about christmas eve i suspect they'll walk in here with a plan that we're told we have to support or else we'll work through christmas or january 1 will be here and we'll have a catastrophe if all these bad things happen, and the president won't even say what he's for. he won't even play lai out a plan. congressman ryan has laid out a plan. he's defended it all over the country, he's east prepared to discuss it and explain it. what's the president's plan? senator reid, what's your plan? do you have any plan to confront our pension programs for social security and medicare that are going broke? do have you any plan to fix them? what is it? isn't this important? do you have any plan to get us
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off this trillion dollars debt course? because growth is going down. 2.4% in 2010, we had that much g.d.p. growth, very slow recovery from the 2007-2008 recession. but then did it go up in 2011? no. it dropped to 1.8. s are what about the first three quarters of this year, 1.77. the growth is not occurring. we're borrowing and spending, but we're not creating growth. i think we need to deal with this crisis we face and the uncertainty of policy is hurting america's economy also. so i'm disappointed we're not dealing with these important issues. i'm disappointed we're recessing and we need to do better. i thank the chair and would yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado is recognized. mr. udall: i listened with interest to my colleague from alabama and i have great confidence we will have a robust debate each the national defense authorization act and we will keep our record intact that has been in place for some 50 years of putting in place a national defense authorization act. we did so last year at this time, we did so i think the previous year, and i have every confidence again i want to say that we'll have a comprehensive national defense authorization act that will direct the pentagon and all the men and women in uniform who serve us so well as to the policies of the united states. i know i'll work with my colleague from alabama to see that accomplished. mr. president, i come back to the senate floor today as i have
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on many occasions to urge all of us to take action on a spool that's -- policy that's bipartisan, in its support and ramification. that is the production tax credit for wind energy. we need to renew that production tax credit. it's encouraged billions of dollars in investment and helped create tens of thousands of good-paying moobs across our country -- american jobs across our country. but i have to tell your our inaction here is jeopardizing the future of what's really a promising industry. we've literally over the last months seen wind industry jobs in the thousands disappear. that's not a statistic, not just a statement, those jobs affected real americans. and these job losses were completely preventible. and it's time for us to get back to work and extend the production tax credit so that
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our wind energy industry can also get back to work. and one of the things i've done, mr. president, i've come to the floor some 20-plus times, is focus on an individual state. i want today talk about a state that has incredible potential for wind power. and that's montana. the last best place as montanans like to describe their amazing state. and like almost every state in the country, montana's seen the jobs, clean energy and economic benefits of wind power. i want take the viewers on a little bit of a tour of montana. the big sky country is home to wind resources that could meet the state's current electricity needs 210 times over. which if you compare that to other states, montana then has the third highest amount of wind resource potential in the country. so it's a prominent player in the future progress of our
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nation's wind industry. and it's therefore no wonder that montana has seen strong development in the wind energy sector. and if you look at toole county in the northwest quarter of montana, that's the site of a new wind farm, the wind rock wind farm north of cut bank and has 126 turbines, completed the project in september of this year, and what's most important when you think about the jobs for local workers and in the $2 million in tax revenue that's been generated which contributes to the $5.7 million in property taxes from wind farms across the state that go to local communities for schools, roads, social services to enhance the quality of life for those montanans. this wind farm, the rim rock wind far farm, will power thousands of montana homes and as i've mentioned along with too
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the other wind farms across the state it's provided great construction jobs as the project was built. with expiration of the p.t.c. expiring, the future growth of this is in jeopardy. we've seen just how important this industry is to our energy and manufacturing future. and if it's sidelined by bipartisan wrangling here that would be truly a tragedy. i know like the presiding officer's state of new mexico and my state of colorado, the people of montana know that we need an all-of-the-above energy strategy to improve our overall energy security and wind is playing a major role in that effort. and we know montana's two senators, senator baucus and senator tester, are hard working, they're very
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effective, and native also supported the production tax credit for their state and for the country. and senator baucus himself as the chairman of the finance committee, pushed forward a package of bipartisan supported tax extenders in early august that included extension of the p.t.c. i want to acknowledge the work of senator baucus in creating true energy security. his work, our work isn't finished. we've got to get the p.t.c. over the finish line and affirm our solid commitment in this chamber to made in america energy and american manufacturing. it's this simple, mr. president. if we fail to extend the production tax credit, we are in effect shipping thousands of jobs overseas to places like
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china and europe and our foreign competitors. so i come to the floor again to implore all of my colleagues to stop this possibility from becoming a reality. i want reiterate sint a partisan issue, there's broad support in this body for wind energy, there's also support in the house. there's bicameral support as well as bipartisan support. we risk losing thousands of jobs and crippling an industry that's just now establishing itself as a very important part of our economic portfolio. i think the presiding officer would agree we're sent here by the people of our states to make smart, informed decisions about the future on behalf of the american people. and if we let this important tax credit, the production tax credit expire, it would be a decision we would all regret. i want underline too the tax credit is applied once that power is produced. this isn't a speculative
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subsidy, this isn't based on hoping something will happen. it actually is based on power that's produced in that tax credit is directed to the utility or power company. in some cases the community power. the agency that provides the power. so it's based on twowl actually producing those electrons through wind energy. let's show america and the world we are as committed to energy independence and job creation as we often say. wind is key to reaching that goal. wind is the path to that goal. let's put action behind our words, and pass the production tax credit as soon as possible. it's as simple as, mr. president, the production tax credit equals jobs so the p.t.c. equals jobs, let's pass it as soon as possible. let's pass it asap. thank you, mr. president. i look forward to sharing some perspectives on the great state of new mexico soon in the future, and i thank you for your attention. i yield the floor and i note the
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absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah is recognized. mr. lee: mr. president, i stand today to splaib my -- the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. lee: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that we dispense with the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. lee: mr. president, i stand today to explain my no vote on cloture this morning in connection with the sportsman's bill, s. 3525. this is a large bill. it's made up of a number of legislative proposals that have been put together. in many settings, this is a good way to legislate. in many respects, it is, and we utilize this procedure on an rule making constant basis in order to make the laws of our country. like many other pieces of legislation that have come before us that have been formed
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in this fashion, this is a bill to which i can say i support it in part and i don't support it in part. there are parts of it that a like a lot. there are other parts that i like a lot less. that's exactly why we have an amendment process, true debate in this country, especially in this body. presupposes and depends for its existence on the availability of an open amendment process. you see, when you go into a store, you can decide which items you want to buy. you can decide to buy bread and milk and eggs or any combination of the three or other products you might want. it would be disturbing if you got to the grocery store counter and were told that you may not buy bread and milk and eggs unless you also buy a bucket of nails, a half ton of iron ore, a book about cowboy poetry and a barry manilow album. sometimes that's what we're told when we vote in the senate. in order to get some things you want, you have to buy a whole bunch of other things that you might not want. that is the reality of the
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legislative process. it's the reality of compromise and it's one that we liv everyd. but again, this is why it's important for us to have an amendment process, so that we can at least debate and discuss the relevant merits of each piece of legislation. and more importantly, so that we might figure out how to take a good piece of legislation and make it better. or how to take a bad piece of legislation and make it good. in this circumstance, the majority leader has used a procedure known as filling the tree. he filled the tree, which means, in effect, that we can't offer amendments. we can't offer any amendments other than those few that the majority leader decided could be offered. it shuts down debate. there can be no significant debate beyond that which will lead to a vote once the tree has been filled. this is a problem. now, republicans in this body, myself included, voted recently to proceed to this bill
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believing in good faith that there would be an opportunity to amend this bill. the bill is important to me in many respects. one of the things that's gotten my attention is that it addresses a number of issues related to federal public lands. it addresses a number of other issues related to wildlife conservation, wildlife management and other issues that are important to hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts across the country and in my state in particular. one of the reasons why this bill is especially important to me is that i represent the great state of utah, a state that has a lot of federal land. in fact, two-thirds of the land in my state is owned by the federal government. for that and other reasons, i'd like the opportunity to address this piece of legislation by offering up amendments, amendments that would make a good bill better. but this process, a process whereby the majority leader rules this body by dictate is
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not good for the senate. we come to expect that the united states senate will be a great deliberative body. in fact, the united states senate has long prided itself on being the world's greatest deliberative legislative body. there are a number of realities about the senate that make this possible, far more possible than it might be in the house of representatives. here in the senate, we have only a hundred members. just down the hall in the house of representatives, they have 435 members. in that body, it's not always possible to have an open amendment process. in this body, it is assumed. this is the usual order. this is the way we're supposed to operate, is to have an opportunity for members to offer and debate and discuss amendments in advance of voting for the procedure at the end of the day. yet we have not had such an opportunity in this case because the leader filled the tree. this is significant and i want
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to emphasize this point. it is true, of course, that majority leaders from both political parties have utilized this procedure from time to time for one reason or another, perhaps out of professed need to expedite the legislative process in certain instances. but this majority leader has utilized this procedure a lot more than others. in fact, he's utilized it, by my count, a total of 67 times, more than any other majority leader in history. why, i ask? why, i ask, has he done this? why has he done is in this circumstance? why has he done it in so many other circumstances in this congress and throughout his service as majority leader? is it because the senate has demonstrated an inability to debate and discuss bills and amendments to bills in a reasonable, responsible manner? i don't think so. let's point to a couple of examples. for example, the national defense authorization act, which this body passed toward the end
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of last year, the ndaa of 2011. it passed out of this body overwhelmingly notwithstanding the fact that there were a number of amendments introduced. i believe there were dozens of amendments that were introduced, debated, discussed and ultimately voted upon. another example involves the farm bill that was passed by this body earlier this year. if i'm not mistaken, we had over 70 amendments to that bill. i appreciated the majority leader's willingness in that circumstance to allow us to have a -- a pretty open, robust debate and discussion and an open amendment process. we still passed the bill even though we had to conduct a lot of debate and have a lot of discussion and have a lot of votes. but this, you see, is what makes this the greatest deliberative body in the world. this is what separates us from other legislative bodies around the country and throughout this planet.
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so it's not the case that the senate simply isn't responsible enough to be able to handle something like an open amendment process because its demonstrated its ability to do so time and time and time again. now, let's talk about some of the things i like in this bill. i support the fact that this bill would reduce access to public lands and would remove some burdensome regulations on some activities occurring on those lands. on the other hand, i am not as wild about the fact that this bill devotes $6.5 million on neo tropical migratory birds on a program that would require 75% of those funds to be spent outside the united states. now, i know in the big picture of things this is a very, very small figure in terms of our total national budget. nevertheless, this is a lot of money, it's a lot of money to hardworking americans who are paying their taxes in order to fund programs like this.
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we ought at least to have an opportunity to debate and discuss amendments so that americans can feel like their money is being spent in the united states for causes that are important to americans. and not on birds outside the united states. other senators have other differences with the bill, other concerns. i agree with some of those concerns. i disagree with others. each of them should have an opportunity to have those concerns aired, to have them debated and discussed in connection with amendments of their own choosing, that they might choose to introduce. we should be debating all of them. instead, in effect, we're debating none of them. that kind of process is especially important in this circumstance because, you see, this bill, as i understand it, has never gone through committ committee. normally in committee we have an opportunity to put a bill through the markup process, to make amendments in committee. this didn't go there. all the more reason why we should have an open amendment
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process right here. so i have introduced several amendments. i'll refer to just a few of them. one of them would involve a proposal to not spend money that we don't have in order to support the conservation of multinational species. $150 million over five years. in other words, it's one thing to spend money on habitat preservation and species rehabilitation for species that actually exist in the united states. it's another thing to spend a lot of money on species outside the united states, on creatures that have never entered our borders and never will. that's something that i think americans are concerned about and it's something that i think we ought to have a chance to debate and discuss as long as we are debating and discussing and voting on this legislation. i have another piece of legislation that would require state legislative approval for any new federal land designations. as i said a few minutes ago,
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with the federal government owning two-thirds of the land in my state, i'm especially concerned about the possibility of, for example, the president deciding to just designate a new national monument within my state. this happened a few years ago when president clinton designated the grand staircareesque lanrcase escalante national monday iewnlt. it's beautiful land and territory, but all of this was accomplished by the stroke of a pen or one chief executive without any opportunity for input from utah, from its 3 million residents, from its elected officials. and i think that any time the federal government takes this kind of action, action that will have a profound impact on the state, on its sovereign rights, on its ability to raise revenue, on its ability to encourage and promote economic activity within its boundaries, there ought to be input, there ought to be approval from the state legislature. i have an amendment that would
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address this concern. i have another amendment that would offer certain federal lands for disposal by competitive sale process. we have an enormous amount of land in this country. some of it is being put to good use. other land is being set aside because of its wilderness characteristics. other land still is just sitting there not doing anything. i think some of that land could be sold and some of that money could be used to fund our programs, programs that are cash strapped along with everything else in this country right now. these and other amendments need to receive consideration. i'm not saying that every one of them has to pass in order for this legislation to proceed, but every one of them ought to be discussed, every one of them ought to be debated. american people should have an opportunity to have their input through their own elected u.s. senators. i would deeply regret it if this were somehow an indication that our majority leader intends to
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operate the senate this way, not only throughout the duration of this congress but into the next congress as well. i want to be clear that i have great respect and admiration for our majority leader. i've known him for most of my life, since i was 11 years old, in fact. i consider him a friend. i ask him, i implore him as my friend to reconsider this practice of filling the tree and thereby forestalling the instruction of amendments. we need an open amendment process. our status as the world's greatest deliberative legislative body requires nothing less. thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader is recognized. mr. mcconnell: i ask consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispens dispd with. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. mcconnell: last evening the majority leader had a second cloture vote on s. 3414, the lieberman cybersecurity bill. this vote to end debate on a comprehensive, complex bill that was never reported out of committee or subject to a markup
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came despite the fact that not a single amendment, except for those used to fill the amendment tree, was allowed to be made pending to the bill. the majority leader had made prior commitments to allowing a free and open debate on cybersecurity, a matter that republicans acknowledge must be addressed, especially in the areas of information-sharing and providing some degree of liability protection to those companies that do share cyber threat information with one another and the federal government. yet despite this commitment, the majority leader triggered this second cloture vote on bill and filled the amendment tree throughout floor consideration of cybersecurity legislation. now, the senate will hopefully move to a full and open debate on the defense authorization bill. during the time that that bill is considered on the floor -- and i do expect that bill to be
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subject to an open amendment process -- my hope is that the majority leader will work with me to reach an agreement on allowing a debate on cybersecurity legislation with republican amendments in order, especially since the ranking members of armed services, intelligence, commerce, and scwsh are all cosponsors of -- judiciary are all cosponsors of a cybersecurity bill that needs to be considered as part of this debate. now, my expectation is that sometime in december after we've completed floor debate on the defense authorization bill and then disposed of the intelligence authorization bill, we will then tapet t attempt ton agreement on amendments to the cybersecurity bill. mr. president, on another matt matter, i want to pay tribute to a close personal friend of mine
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of of over 40 years, a kentuckian who is a hero to his country and an inspiration for his work on behalf of children, where he has made a national impact. in his 23 years of service as president and chief executive officer of the national center for missing and exploited children, ernie allen has saved thousands of lives and reunited thousands of families. today, november 15, ernie retires from the helm of the senate center for missing and exploited children, which he cofounded. under his leadership, the national center assisted in the recovery of more than 178,000 -- 178,000 missing children. they've trained almost 300,000 law enforcement and criminal justice professionals in policy and protocols for missing
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children investigations. and they have achieved a miss -- missing child recovery rate of 97.7%. losing ernie's talents at the national center will be a loss for kentucky as well as for the nation. kentucky was proud to have one of our own leading this important cause. i've known ernie for over 40 years, dating back to ou days of high school. on the same day i won election to student body of the high school, he was elected president of the junior high portion of the same school. we both went on to attend the louisville college. i can assure that you his dedication to rescuing missing children runs very deep. over 25 years ago when i was judge executive in jefferson county -- and that's a position that is the head of the executive branch of county
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government -- ernie was the director of the louisville jefferson county crime division. louisville is the capital. that was not the case however in those years and we in the county government had to coordinate and work with officials in city government. this louisville jefferson county crime commission was one of the best examples of cooperation between city and county government back in those days. that commission was the first of its kind to bring police officers and social workers together on behalf of kids. just one innovation ernie came up with back then was to make a if i were card phos as many kentucky kides as possible and send that card home for the child's parents to use to assist investigators in the awful vent the child ever went missing. ernie's work in kentucky established him has a national leader in his field as early as
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1981. at that time no nationwide organization existed to share and distribute information on missing children. if a child was abducted and taken over a state line or even a county line, the chances that law enforcement in the new jurisdiction had all the information necessary to save that child were really quite small. ernie led the effort to lobby congress to establish laws so that police could talk to each other are across boundaries -- to each other across boundaries about these missing children. his work bore fruit in 1989. so ernie was an integral part of the founding of the national center. he then became its president and c.e.o. in 1989. he's been a nationally recognized authority in combating child abduction and
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exploitation for decades. the u.s. justice department sought out his expertise in the wake of the tragic child murders in chicago and atlanta. congress has sought his expert testimony many, many times on issues ranging from international child abduction to missing children to online crimes against children. ernie worked to secure the passage of the national child search assistance act which prohibits waiting periods for initiating missing child investigations. previously some law enforcement agencies refused to take reports of missing children until a certain period of time had elapsed. now, thanks to ernie, there are no unnecessary bureaucratic delays in cases where any he had tansy can be -- hesitancy can be the difference in returning an abducted child to its parents or opening a murder investigation. ern knee advocated for the amber alert program whichas